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Work with Darts to Get a Better Fit

A designer’s solution for convenient adjustments
Threads #226, Summer 2024

In the practice of garment creation, one element reigns supreme: the dart. Often overlooked but ever so crucial, darts play a pivotal role in transforming flat fabric into beautifully fitting garments that hug the curves just right. These small wedges in our patterns hold the key to achieving the perfect fit we all dream of. Join me as we explore the art of dart manipulation, demystifying the fitting process while unlocking a world of design possibilities. As my mantra goes, “It’s all about the dart.” 

Darts are little superheroes in the world of sewing. They’re those nifty triangular folds that give our garments shape and structure. But here’s the kicker: They’re not just static lines on a pattern. They’re versatile design details  that can be moved and shifted to suit our fitting needs.

Visualize the transformation: We’re three-dimensional beings, but patterns and fabric are two-dimensional. Darts bridge this gap, enabling flat material to curve gracefully around the body’s various peaks and valleys. It almost feels like magic when you see a stiff, flat pattern wrap snugly around a body’s shape—it’s a testament to the power of dart manipulation. 

Two images of a paper bodice template with dart slit conforming to the shape of a dress form.

Intro to Dart Manipulation

You have likely noticed that darts show up in different places on sewing patterns. That’s the result of dart manipulation. You can make use of this skill for fit and style.

Where to put darts

Darts don’t need to be confined to specific places on a pattern, even though there are configurations we often consider “standard.”  They can be relocated to different areas of the pattern. It’s like playing Tetris with fabric, and it’s a game-changer. The illustrations at right show some common dart placements, but remember, the possibilities are endless. 

Darts aren’t picky…

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